Petey’s Big Adventure
This column is featured in the March 15, 2012 edition of the Long Island Press.
Earlier this week House Rep. Pete King (R-Seaford) uploaded a video of a ride-along with U.S. Marshals performing raids in the Bronx and Brooklyn. In the video King can be seen wearing a police jacket and following marshals who’ve starred in the reality television show Manhunters up the stairs and into a suspect’s apartment. After the bust King is heard joking with them, saying, “I got him,” then listening to an official describe kicking a suspect down a ladder during the raid.
That’s our Pete. Tough on crime. The only problem is that the filming of Petey’s Big Adventure is technically against the law.
The video began circulating on the Web after a story first appeared on the political website Talking Points Memo. According to the story, King’s people took the video down from YouTube, then reposted an edited version later in the day. TPM reports differences between the versions saying, “Clips of an officer kicking in a door, a joke about how King ‘got’ a suspect and an officer describing to King how he kicked someone, perhaps the suspect, off a ladder were cut out.” The edited version was also later taken down.
Considering how many laws and rights we’ve thrown out the window over the last decade, this incident will likely die out in short order. And since the marshals are going after law-breaking reprobates, few will care about the violation of federal protocol. What bothers me is how ridiculous he looks on the video. Not only does King represent Long Island, but he’s also the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee. Instead of looking official or important, he looks like a 7-year-old about to take his first ride through Safety Town in Eisenhower Park.
Wearing a police jacket (illegal) when you’re not a cop while taping a bust inside a person’s home (illegal) and filming yourself joking about it (legal but stupid) is just about the last thing we need this guy doing as the head of the Homeland Security committee.
But judging by the plurality of his victories, Long Islanders love Rep. Pete King. Some people can’t seem to get enough of him. The “take no prisoners” attitude exhibited by LI’s full-time congressman and part-time pugilist whips his dedicated base into a frenzy. He is always on hand to offer commentary on global situations—particularly when it comes to military affairs or law enforcement issues.
King never backs down from conflict; if anything, he seems to invite it. He doesn’t duck reporters or shrink from controversy and has even shown a willingness to publicly battle his own party when he disagrees with its leadership.
These are sentiments that are uttered by King’s proponents and detractors alike. But while many find these qualities appealing, I consider them to be dangerous. Not because these aren’t admirable traits in a person, but because of his position in Congress. Peter King is incapable of nuance and separating his emotion from policy-making and is forever insulting various ethnic groups, sometimes entire nations. Moreover, when he speaks he insults the intelligence community by displaying a remarkable lack of, well, intelligence.
A bigger problem is that King’s bellicose nature and incapacity for subtlety makes him walking fodder for terrorists. He routinely offers bulletin board material that stokes anti-American sentiment like some loudmouth running back pumping up the opposition. Meanwhile, our servicemen and women are cracking under pressure and displaying personal anguish in horrific ways. Recent incidents reported or caught on video of soldiers burning Qorans and urinating on dead Taliban fighters—and the most recent tragedy in Afghanistan when a U.S. soldier reportedly executed 16 unarmed villagers—are overshadowing the positive work being done by our military.
Our mission in Afghanistan was supposed to be to disrupt terrorist cells, not take over the entire country and leave our men and women there to languish in an undefined, unethical and unwinnable war. This was sold as a homeland security mission, not an occupation. This is why watching the head of the House Homeland Security Committee gleefully lumber along behind U.S. Marshals on a raid while a staffer films it for YouTube is so utterly juvenile and ridiculous. Instead of monkey-fucking around in the Bronx living out some sort of unfulfilled cop-fetish-fantasy, I wish this guy would focus on getting our most precious possessions out of Afghanistan.